Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whose Promises Are You Believing?

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True....and His Name is the Word of God."  Revelation 19:11-14 (NIV)

Promises.  They are all around us.  In magazines.  On TV.  On the products we buy.

And we believe them.

I recently caught myself standing in front of the mirror on the first day after I used perfecting cream on my face.  Yes, after only one night.  One night of using a storebrand knockoff that promised to reduce all visible signs of aging, to replenish moisture and restore my skin's youth.  Did I embrace that empty vow so easily?  Did I really think that those lines between my eyebrows, wrought by years of perplexity or worry, questioning or intense listening could be erased overnight?  Or those curved lines carved by smiles or that ugly cry would simply disappear?

About a month ago I purchased a new pair of walking shoes.  Their box proclaims that because of the unique design, my legs and rear end will become toned.  A few days after buying them, I deduced that they surely wouldn't do that if I didn't put them on.  So I did.  I walked in my neighborhood.  I walked on the treadmill.  I really like them.  They're very comfy.  I feel good about walking when I'm wearing them.  But I guess I've wised up.  I'm not checking any mirrors...yet. 

So, what do you find yourself buying into?  What are you believing?

When promises come up short, rest assured that there is "One whose Name is Faithful and True."  Are we spending time reading His promises in God's Word?  Are we putting our confidence in Him?  Are we believing Him?

"And without faith it is impossible to please God...."  Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)  We must believe Him! 

The key Scripture for this post (from Revelation) promises Jesus' return.  He is the One that we need...for whatever our need is!  He is the ultimate promise keeper!  He is Faithful and True.

That prophesy in Revelation will be fulfilled.  Jesus will return!  Will He find us believing?

Lord, thank You for Your promises.  Thank You for Your Word that is readily available to us.  Thank You for Jesus, the embodiment of Your Word and Your promises to us.  Help us in our unbelief.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Are You Using That Gift?

"Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen."  1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

"Mommy, do you ever use the book I gave you?"

That was the question my darlin' 11 year old asked me one morning as I was having my quiet time.  For Christmas she gave me a little gift book that she bought with her own money.  I'm ashamed to admit that it had gotten buried in the basket beside my comfy quiet time chair.  You better believe that I got it out and it is now a part of my morning time with the Lord.

My primary "love language" is gifts.  I understand the joy that comes from giving a gift from the heart.  I know the desire to see that present being used by the recipient...the see the pleasure it brings.  How could I have treated my precious little one's gift so carelessly?

I think about lots of gifts I've received...from my parents, my other children, my husband, my students, my friends.  Have I demonstrated thankfulness and allowed them to see me delight in it and put it to good use?

Hmmm, and what about the gifts that God has given me?  Those that He so graciously bestowed on me?  Am I using my gifts for the strength He provides...for His glory?

What about you?  How has God gifted you?  Are you stepping out in faith to use that gift for Him?  If so, don't you know that it brings Him great pleasure!  Let's vow to do just that!

Lord, thank You for loving us.  Thank You for gifting us, trusting us to bring glory to Your Name.  Strengthen us, guide us, equip us to use those gifts to honor You.  We love you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who Are You Running With? Are You Even Running?

"You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"  Galatians 5:7 (NIV)

First of all I just have to say, this is not about running...literally.  I am not a runner...most likely never will be.  But whether we are talking about physically running, or walking as followers of Christ, growing in discipleship, or following in obedience to God's call, it is vital to have the right folks "running" with us.

Since I mentioned running, let's think about physical activity.  Don't you think that you are more likely to stick with a fitness program if you have someone to hold you accountable?  Even if you don't actually do the exercise together, just a person that knows your desire for getting in better shape and encourages you along the way.

In our Christian walk and as we grow as disciples of Christ, it is so beneficial to have mentors to guide us and friends to stand strong with us as we aim to follow Romans 12:2 that tells us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  It can be difficult to be in the world but not of  the world.  We need fellow warriors to urge us onward to victory,  and to rally alongside us in the battles that we face.

As we seek to be obedient to God's call in our lives, it is essential to "hang out" with people that feel that same be "iron sharpening iron"...growing and learning together. 

For instance, if God has called you to adopt, seek out those who have adopted or are currently pursuing adoption.  We did that when we adopted our daughter from China.  We sought counsel of those who understood "the call" and all the ins and outs of the long process.  They encouraged us and supported us as we walked an unfamiliar path.  In return, we have had the blessing of being able to counsel others as they walked their adoption journey.

Perhaps God has called you to share your testimony or a message that God has spoken over you.  You need to find others that feel the same urge.  Join with them.  Learn from them.  Next month there is a wonderful conference near Charlotte, NC called She Speaks.  Proverbs 31 ministries also offers Next Step Speakers Services to train, challenge, and spur you on.  In October the Christian Communicators Conference will be held in SC, providing an intimate learning experience with excellent leadership.

Has God called you to write for Him?  Is there a book hiding somewhere within your heart and mind longing to make its way into the hands of readers?  Is there knowledge that you should be sharing with others through articles, blogs, or other media?  Seek out people with that same desire.  Join a writer's group.  Watch for God to put people in your path that share your interest.  It is amazing how he works all things for good according to His purposes!  Attend writer's conferences.  There is a plethora of options, depending on your genre.  If you write for children or teens, look into Write2Ignite!, an excellent conference that will take place in March.  Coming up in July, Write2Ignite! is having a one day workshop called A Day Apart near Charlotte, NC.  You can find out about that at the Write2Ignite! link.  The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference is held each spring and is amazing.  Be bold.  Step out in obedience.  If you don't already have writers around you, attending these conferences will bring new friends your way.

So...who are you running with?  Are you surrounded by those who encourage you in your journey with God?  Or as the verse above says, are there people in your life that are "cutting in on you"...keeping you from being obedient?

Are you even running???  Are you pursuing God and His call on your life?  He has huge plans for you..."plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  (Jeremiah 29:11)  He has gifted you to do something special for Him.  Do you hear His call? 

Lord, help us to run toward You!  Help us to run with our arms open wide and our hands stretched out in willingness to do whatever You call us to do.  Guide our every step as we seek to follow in obedience to You.  Teach us through Your Word.  Equip us, as You promised in Your Word.  Keep us from giving in to fear and the lies of the evil one.  Help us as we run to and for You!

Friday, June 10, 2011

We're Guided....Do We Follow?

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

I know that Emily had to be totally disgusted with me.  She kept giving me directions and I didn't follow.  I wanted to do only what was familiar...follow routes I had travelled before.  She kept saying, "Recalculating."  Emily is my Garmin, of course...providing travel instructions in a beautiful British accent.

That just got me to thinkin' how often God directs me...lays out a map...and instructs me turn by turn and yet I choose my own way...the one that is familiar, most comfortable.

Could I have gotten there quicker or easier with Emily's directions?  Perhaps.  I'll never know that.  I chose my own way.

What about God's way?  His way might be quicker...or take longer.  It could be as smooth as freshly paved highways...or as unpleasant as the bumpiest, pothole laden roads.

But we must trust that His way is perfect.

Emily may be working from satellites in space.  God is the One who created that space...and this earth...the past, the present, and He is the only One who knows the future.

I want to travel His way.

Creator God, help us to hear Your voice and follow in the way that You lead, knowing that You will never leave us wherever the road takes us.  We love You.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fingers Behaving Badly

"When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."  Romans 6:20-22 (NIV)

Do your fingers ever have a mind of their own?

Apparently mine do...and it's a little embarrassing...and quite comical.

I have fake fingernails.  And I love them.  Every three weeks, I head to my favorite nail salon and get them filed off, recoated, buffed, painted, and renewed.

It's just so funny that in one of the steps of the process, I've found my dear nail artist having to battle a couple of my fingers that just want to do their own thing while he's working!  He has to hold them down and control them so that they don't mess things up.

In reality, it's probably not just our fingers that can get out of control...but our whole selves...beginning in our minds, our thoughts, our desires.  Then that gets played out with our bodies...with what we do, how we act, where we go, words we say.

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have His Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Our bodies are His temple.  Are we treating it as such?

Our lives are a testimony to the way we allow Him to dwell in us.  Are we living in a way that pleases and honors Him?

Oh, I must admit.  It's not just my fingers that get out of control.  And I'm so thankful that I am not a slave to sin, but to God...and His righteousness.  He holds me in His hand...and is powerful enough to control long as I yield.

Lord, thank You for the provision of a new life in You!  Thank You for the pathway to holiness...and eternal life.  Help us to yield control to You, trust in the power of Your mighty hand in our lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, 'The LORD is great!'"  Psalm 40:16 (NIV)

I walked into the Verizon store giddy with excitement.  When the salesman asked me how he could help me, I said, "I want to be SMART...and Fascinating!"  (Okay, for those of you less than tech-savvy me, I was shopping for a SMART phone called the Fascinate.)  I'm not sure if he enjoyed my play on words or not.  But I'm having a blast talking about my new state of  Fascinating-ness...even if other people don't get it.

We perused the choices of smart phones, listened to his tutelage of the pros and cons of the vast array of communication tools.  I liked the Fascinate phone...and not just because of it's cool name and that I can officially say that I am Fascinate-ed...and when using it that I am Fascinate-ing!!! 

We made the purchase.  He switched over all my contacts and handled all of the computer-ish type stuff.  I left the store all giggly, practically skipping to the car!  It was a bit of a bummer that I couldn't explore all of its possibilities right away, as I had to take it home and plug it in to charge for a couple of hours.  I was so excited, though, that I read the "Tips, Hints, and Shortcuts" manual provided.  Unfortunately, they wrote this mini-manual for people who obviously already know how to use a smart phone.  The phone finally was charged.  It was time to try it out!  Can I just say that the phone might be smart, but it doesn't figure itself out for you.

So...not only am I Fascinated, but I'm frustrated too.

I have successfully completed a few tasks on the phone...basic phone calling...checking the weather...downloading a game for my daughter (who thinks the phone partially belongs to her)...and scrolling and swiping...and putting on a voicemail message that touts the possibility that I may not have answered the call because I couldn't figure it out. I have tried to email from the phone, text (before I found out that my "plan" didn't include texting...but for more money, I could add that), and load a couple of apps and gotten this response...Task Failed.

I'm headed to Charlotte for some personal tutoring from a couple of SMART daughters.

There is so much in life that is way more frustrating than the insignificant issue of learning to use a phone.  Waaaayyy more.  When we find ourselves crying out for HELP, we need to go the the Manual...for guidance, for reassurance, for encouragement, and for the reminder that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  (Psalm 46:1)  

I especially love this verse that says, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him."  (Psalm 28:7)

May we take our frustrations to Him and be fascinated by the way He sees us through.

Lord, "Because You are [our] help, [we] sing in the shadow of Your wings." (Ps. 63:7)  We join those saints as we remember that "Thus far [You], the LORD [have] helped us." (1 Sam. 7:12)  We believe that You will continue!  We proclaim that You are our "help...the One who sustains [us]!  (Psalm 54:4)  Fascinate us with Your power.